SFAC: Groups short on space, services

Office space, marketing changes and overlooked students — from commuters to aged-out foster youth — were the topics of choice at this fall’s first day of Student Fees Advisory Committee meetings.

SFAC, which consists of seven students, two members of faculty and a non-voting adviser, receives and reviews requests from student organizations and departments that are funded through student fees.

Last year’s total projected revenue at $240 — the amount that students who take six or more credit hours pay in student fees — totaled out to $20,096,842. This amount is split among more than 30 student organizations which must ask SFAC for the amount they desire, with justification. The Daily Cougar receives funding allocated by SFAC.

Tuesday saw the Dean of Students, Counseling and Psychological Services, UH Wellness, the Health Center, Department of Campus Recreation, the Center for Students with DisABILITIES, University Career Services and Urban Experience Program speak. Forensics was scheduled to speak, but was delayed to Monday.

The Dean of Students Office representatives spoke on how they plan to improve engagement, support and community in order to help transfer and commuter students.

“Our target is not to bring more transfer students; our target is to contribute to the students who have already been admitted,” said Associate Dean of Students Kamran Riaz.

The office will implement a commuter assistant program in order to bring that contribution. The money requested would provide wages for 25 commuter assistants who will provide a support system for incoming students.

“What we are interested in, and what is the number one in goals of the president and of the division, is student success,” said Associate Vice President for Students Affairs and Dean of Students William F. Munson.

“So when they get here, we want to make sure that they succeed.”

The majority of the day, however, was dominated by campus health services. CAPS, UH Wellness and the Health Center all boasted positive feedback and results from students as they also discussed understaffing and a lack of space.

“More and more students are on campus expecting to receive health care services … Because of that, and recognizing that, there’s a need to grow the Health Center and grow the Counseling Center,” said Health Center Executive Director Dr. Scott Spear.

“(We have) been looking at exploring construction by itself for the Counseling Center and Career Center. Where that will be, who will be in it, how it will be constructed — those are issues that are still being worked on.”

The health services aren’t the only organizations in small spaces.

“Office space is a challenge. Our office space is approximately 550 square feet, and (we have) 126 students on our roster,” said Rachel Adams, the office coordinator for the Urban Experience Program.

The organization’s desire for growth is one of the primary justifications for requesting fees.

Though many Urban Experience Program members are Pell Grant recipients, the organization reaches out to only a fraction of total Pell Grant recipients at UH, something the SFAC commented on.

Today, the Center for Student Media, University Centers and the Blaffer Art Museum and other organizations will present to SFAC.

Additional reporting by Andrea Pizzolo.


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